By Nishwah Khan
(Dedicated to my nanou: Nafeesa. You deserve to be honoured and loved. Thank you for being such a strong woman. I love you.)
Purple is my favorite color.
My husband told me it suits me a lot. I blushed whenever he complimented me. I didn’t know how much he loved purple on me, because it was the color he chose to mark me with.
Purple, black, blue.
Auspicious colors that would look great on a saree.
Oh, how I wish they were on a fabric instead of my body.
I don’t know how I ended up here. Where did it all start? I don’t remember it being a horror movie, it certainly didn’t start as one. Or is this a nightmare? Is this what all relationships resort to?
Is this what goes on behind closed doors?
Please wake me up. Someone. Anyone.
Today was a good day, to say the least.
He only hurled a few curse words at me. Only called me badtameez and behaya. I took in a deep breath.
It could be worse.
Don’t I know it.
I look at the scars on my forearm, run my fingers on the lump above my left eyebrow where he had smacked me a couple of days ago.
I was infuriated when he did it. Looking at him with daggers in my eyes as he sat on the bed to catch his breath, but I gave in eventually. I get it. He is frustrated. He is tired. Being quarantined has messed with his mind. I understand better than anyone else how suffocating the four walls of the house can be.
I know him, and the way his mind works. No one knows him better than I do. No one can love him more than me.
His mother knows it too. This is why she tries to put me down any chance she can get. I see the wrath of jealousy in her eyes and the way she turns up her nose at me, looking down at the tray of food I bring to her during meal times, thrice a day.
“This is too oily.”
“Too spicy! Are you trying to kill me?”
“I can make this better than you, even though I’m ancient.”
“You’re after me, all of you! Especially you!”
But I purse my lips and don’t retaliate as she unleashes her hatred upon me, hell bent on trying to break my heart. She can try all she wants. My heart is not hers to break.
I know he gets angry sometimes but he can’t control it, can he? My poor husband. He does apologize afterwards. See? He has a good heart after all. So what if he slips sometimes? It’s not his fault. We all make mistakes. I am aware how stressful his job is and how hard he works all day in the office to provide for his daughter and wife. It’s alright if he can’t control himself at times. He tells me he doesn’t mean to hurt me. And I believe him.
We all make mistakes.
It’s my fault too, for cooking and cleaning all day instead of going out to earn. I should be more valuable.
Sometimes I think to myself that I don’t deserve him.
I can’t help but let my mind drift to the good times after we fight. These moments are like magnets that bring me back to him and keep me in love with him such as the times when he holds my hand and tells me I look beautiful, or when he tenderly says sorry.
All couples fight.
Every relationship has conflict. The other day he got mad at me because I didn’t iron his night suit as well as he wanted me to. I admit I had slacked a little, after all I knew he was going to sleep right after so I didn’t flatten all the wrinkles like I should have.
He didn’t talk to me the whole day after it and kept his back against me the entire night. My husband pushed his breakfast plate away, even when I made him his favorite omelet as an apology.
I guess I hurt his feelings.
Why am I not careful enough? It is my fault.
But I try so hard.
I guess I’ll just have to try harder.
I went outside to get his newspaper for him and that’s when he lunged at me and pulled me back inside the house with an iron grip.
“Why are you going out?”
“It’s only till the gate, I was getting the newspaper for you so-“
“Don’t give me these pathetic excuses! I saw you talking to the newspaper man!”
“What are you talking about?”
“You were standing at the gate for far too long!”
“I was getting the bill and confirming-“
My husband didn’t even let me complete my sentence and pushed me into our bedroom. As I fell down, I felt him kicking my back, my legs, slapping me vigorously and screaming at me. I put my hands against my face, shielding my eyes, trying to apologize to him even though I hadn’t done anything wrong, begging him to stop.
But he didn’t.
I tried to muffle my cries by moving my palms to my mouth. The pain was getting unbearable. He started punching me blindly now, violently smacking any part of my body he could lay his hands on. Oh, how I wished he would punch me hard enough to kill me so I wouldn’t have to go through this again and die right there. The searing pain was getting too much and I didn’t want this to go on anymore. After twenty minutes that seemed like forever, he got up and left the room quietly. I hugged myself, unable to get up from the floor, whimpering like an injured animal, hoping no one could hear me. But I knew they did, he was loud enough with his blows and the commotion was too much to go unnoticed, but no one did anything about it so they might as well be deaf.
As I lay there on the floor, all limp and bruised, I knew it would take me a while to get up from the floor, but I always did.
“I love you,” he whispered to me that night in bed, “I’m sorry about this morning, it’s because I care about you.” I smiled at him and told him that I loved him too. This was his romantic side that I lived for. I know that behind this aggressive man is the sweetest man in the world. He was perfect about 60% of the time, but the rest of the 40% was downright demonic.
We all have our faults.
The purple marks had darkened considerably during quarantine. I know that staying inside with nothing to do had made him frustrated, and I was his only relief. This was how he would vent his anger and unresolved traumas, projecting the hurt that they caused him, straight onto my body.
This is the price of love.
This time, he didn’t even let the previous ones heal. The once a month episodes have escalated to once a day, now that we are in quarantine. I try to coax him and apologize, even though I’m not sure what I should be apologizing for.
Perhaps my only crime is that I love him. Oh, how I love him so. Is love such a heinous crime that it must be punished like this? I’m ready to give him my everything, even today. To cheer him up I spend all day cooking his favorite dishes, trying to appease his mother, taking care of our daughter, letting him use my body however he wants to at night. Laying myself in service to him, anything I could do to make this quarantine easier for him.
There are times when I get irritated too, tired and exhausted. But I don’t have much time (or energy) to be mad at him because I am too scared of him instead.
I remember the day they announced the lockdown and gave orders regarding quarantine. My daughter was happy to be let off from school but I couldn’t join in her happiness because there was a huge lump in throat and my heart had started racing.
Quarantine meant staying in. Staying home. With him.
I knew I loved him but my body didn’t. It sported bruises and cuts, telltale symbols of what went on behind closed doors. The pain from the purple patches was my body’s way of complaining to me, urging me to come to terms with the situation. Trying to get me to come face to face with the reality I was desperately trying to ignore. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror after my husband’s episodes of fury. In a way, not looking at myself made it easier for me to cope. Easier for me to stay.
Well, thanks to the quarantine atleast I wouldn’t have to tell white lies to my family and friends anymore, blaming the marks on my clumsiness and cleverly disguising my husband’s temper.
He knew it too, which is why he had worsened his blows. Pretending not to hear me as I cried in the bathroom, hurt and huddled in a corner, not daring to look at this woman I had become. It was like I was forced to shed off my skin like a python, only it wasn’t as old and flakey as a python’s. I had become a mere husk of the robust and cheery woman that I was. My new form had tear stained cheeks, occasional black eyes, and purple contusions decorating her skin. I looked like a battered woman straight out of the newspaper. Photos I used to scorn and now I was one of them.
There were multiple occasions when I thought about running away. But what would I do? Who would I run to? Who would take me and my six year old daughter in? Am I prepared to make my parents bow their heads down in shame? Am I prepared to answer all the questions hurled at me? To be answerable to all the fingers pointed at me? What if the next man in my life is worse than the current one?
I didn’t have the strength to answer these questions, so I just stayed. The physical and emotional abuse had worn me out too much. Atleast he loves me. Or he says he does.
We all have our faults.
My body will heal again. I hope it gets stronger so it doesn’t hurt when he strikes me again. I hope it becomes as tough as scar tissue with no sensitive nerve endings. Just like my scars that don’t hurt anymore. They are like little memoirs of the skin that was receptive to touch and sensation, reminding me of my strength. I’m pretty sure the rest of my body will follow, I pray it does fast enough before he kills me.
After all, it is his love that has enraptured me. The things we do for love.
It’s unique after all. The greater the pleasure, the greater the price. There is quite a high price for his purple love. Maybe one day I will be able to forsake his love for a better color. It is a wicked game I must join him in. A wicked game laced with his purple love.
When Nishwah Khan isn’t trying to navigate herself through corridors of her dental school, she has her head bent down and is poring over a fantastical novel or baking with her best friends. Instead of getting triggered over patriarchal societal norms, she chooses to write about them in attempts to deconstruct them from the social fabric. She loves coffee, the smell of rain and her mom’s biryani. Has also be called the “hijabi assassin” by her gym fellows due to her love for MMA. She has a blog called ‘Nishaan’ which means “mark”, where she wants to leave significant mark on her readers so they too may carry a little bit of magic, that stems from idealism, within themselves.
You can read more articles by her at: https://nishaaanblog.wordpress.com/